tips

There are a few grooming pre-requisites that any female ballroom dancer should be aware of before heading into a dance competition. Some things are obvious (no crinkly floats or skirts!) whilst others may not be so obvious. I travel to major competitions all over the world and nowadays I see its pretty common to get hair and makeup done by a professional but what about the other important factors that go into creating the finished product? Ballroom dancing is a highly visual and highly perceptive sport/art so if you want to do well not only do you have to learn how to dance but you have to make dang sure that you look the best on that floor too! The learning stuff I can leave to your teachers as it’s not so easy to give a dance lesson through a blog (I could try? Joking..) but I thought maybe I’d help a sister or two out by sharing a few things I find important on a competition day. The best thing about most of these factors are that we can ourselves control them and therefore put forward our best 🙂

1. Dress + Shoes:

When going into a competition I think these two items are probably most important (thanks Captain Obvious you say!) but I don’t mean just ‘having’ these things but actually the quality, the fit and the look of them. Obviously the style and cut of the dress is your own personal choice but some things to make sure of are that the fit of the dress is right, the colour is appealing and that the stonework is professional. Find yourself a dressmaker you can trust! Also make sure that once you have your dress that it is always clean on comp days, fake tan and makeup all over your beautiful dress is not a good look.

Shoes are an important one for me but maybe that’s just because I’m a bit of a perfectionist! I feel that the shoes should make the feet look elegant and beautiful because they are where a lot of judges’ eyes will most likely be at some point. Therefore, dirty old shoes are a not a go-er. Just imagine if you were going to a ball… would you wear a clapped out pair of dirty, worn out shoes to go with your amazing new ball gown? No? Well its the same thing on the dance floor! If you can, try to have 2 pairs of dance shoes; one for practice and one for competitions. Also, if you dye your shoes to match your dress then that’s taking professionalism to the next level my friend! Hands up who wants a DIY tutorial on dyeing dance shoes? Let me know in the comments box below!

Last quick thing to mention on this topic is smell. I go to too many comps where my gag reflex is triggered. Tan makes us not smell pleasant and coupled with intense working out, tight-fitting dress materials and closed in shoes with no socks it really isn’t a flower party. Invest in some Febreeze, wear deodorant and smother yourself in lovely perfumes. We want to knock the judges off their feet when we dance past them because our dancing is THAT amazing, not because we smell like an old spice pantry.

2. Fake Tan

Fake tan is pretty much a must for any ballroom dancer. It’s horrible and leaves us looking like Oompa Loompas in public for many days after the comp but unfortunately there is no getting around it. In my 20 years of dancing I’ve only ever seen one (Yes, ONE!) girl not wear fake tan to an event. That chick was ballsy and had the most beautiful porcelain white skin and was going for what looked to be a 1920’s type vibe. So it was for an effect to help with her statement but even that didn’t last for long.. 2 or 3 comps maybe? Then she was back with the rest of us, tanning up a storm. I have a blog post on tanning which you can find here but mainly for grooming sakes make sure your tan is even, not too orange or green in colour and don’t wear too much! Over tanning is probably worse than not wearing any tan to be honest. I’m very fair naturally so I never have the problem of being over tanned but I do feel that ballroom gals can get away with being a lot less brown than the latin ladies. I only ever really wear one or two coats of tan these days (my latin days are OVER!) plus I feel that having darker hair can let you get away with wearing less tan too. A tip I like to do if I do have a fair bit of tan on is to still keep my face a shade or two lighter but apply a deeper colour around the perimeter of my face so that my face still has light to it. If you match your whole face to the colour of your skin not only will you look like a carrot but you will lose your features too! Getting patchy tan after doing too many comps in a row? Buy yourself some exfoliating gloves, scrub it all off and start again girl.

3. Nails

sns-nails
SNS nails 🙂

Ah nails, it pains me to say this but ev-e-ry thing counts on that dance floor and sometimes it comes down to the most tiniest of details, especially at the highest level. It may sound super pedantic to say that even our nails need to look groomed but hey, that’s dancing for ya! I really don’t like wearing acrylics, I have done for soooo many years because my natural nails are short, weak and don’t grow so acrylics helped my hands look more lengthened and elegant. But that stuff is really bad for your natural nails. Nowadays I’m trying out SNS which is basically a dipping powder containing 5 different kinds of Vitamins and Calcium which help to create healthier nails underneath. It has no odour, uses no primer and requires no UV light to set. Unlike acrylic and gel it prevents damage to your real nails but feels just as strong and durable. Also unlike shellac, you are still able to have the help of tips initially to get you started with some length until eventually your real nails grow long enough on their own. If you are lucky enough to have long natural nails just make sure they looked manicured and maybe slap a bit of colour on them too!

4. Hair + Makeup

This one is a little bit of an ambiguous topic but there are a few ‘guidelines’ I guess that can be followed. Hair should be sleek using gel or hairspray to get a smooooth and shiny finish. Big, boofy and loose wedding type hairstyles don’t really hit the mark. The hair should be so tight that when you move your head the hair does not move, any wobbly bits need to be sorted out and there should be absolutely no flyaways! I did a low bun tutorial with my gal Rachel Macintosh a while back linked here where you can kind of get a vibe for just how sleek I mean when I say sleek. I mean like LEGO. Like rock hard. Get it? The ponytail part of the hairstyle should be pulled so tight that you feel like it’s giving you a facelift and any decorative parts and the bun should be pinned in a way that you cannot see the pins. Headpieces can be cool, just make sure they tie into your dress otherwise it can tend to look like a bit of a random after thought.

Makeup should be clear, should bring out your features and should complement your overall look. I like to look at my dress and start to conceptualise a vibe I want to portray and allow the make up to reflect that. For example recently, I’ve been wearing quite a simple, black, timeless and bold looking dress so have tried to also keep my makeup along those lines. I’ve made an emphasis on a porcelain, full coverage base, kept with neutral browns and whites on the eyes paired with some black to give it a bit more edge and a retro 50’s glam red lip to finish. I do often rock this look but that’s what I feel most comfortable in and you do have to also feel your best on that floor too! If I was wearing silver or something more blingy then maybe I would add some glitter and some highlighter etc. So remember, it’s so important to have a clear image of how you want to look because if you aren’t clear enough to portray it, the audience/judges won’t be able to read it.

I hope some of these things helped, I am forever learning new things along the way and that’s whats so great about dancing! It’s always evolving and changing 🙂 Who knows, maybe one day none of these thing will be important! We might all be dancing around in jeans, with no fake tan and our hair out flying everywhere.. you never know!

Love, Rachelle xx

 

 

 

 

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Hello and Happy 2017! So sorry I have been MIA for the past couple of weeks, I really wanted to have a bit of “do absolutely nothing” time whilst I was home in Western Australia and I may have accidentally let the electronic side of that creep into my first week of being in the UK. Whoopsie 🙂 But alas, I am back now and ready to go!

Over the Christmas period I enjoyed the usual Aussie shenanigans; beach, alcohol, sun and food. After not enjoying most of these things for the past 10 months I had become a little bit of a rookie on the sunscreen front. In which case I mean I forgot to sunscreen my face completely and then decided to head to the beach. BIG FAIL. So obviously I got burnt, it hurt, I peeled, yadda yadda but the peeling was not so hot to look at. So to cover my flakey forehead I decided to cut in a fringe (or “bangs” for those of you that call them that.. never understood that term btw?) It turned out not so bad actually and did a really good job of hiding my sunburn too! Cutting in a fringe is often something I do myself whether it’s because I happened to have a bit of a break out from eyebrow threading or if I just feel like mixing it up and having a fringe for a while. It really isn’t too hard to master once you know what suits your face and I don’t find it too hard to push mine back as I often curl my hair so i just incorporate it into some curls around my face 🙂 That way I get the best of both worlds! So if you would like to rock out something new and fresh for 2017 then let’s get into it..

You’ll need:

  • scissors
  • comb
  • hair (quite important I’d say)
  • courage

Just a quick note, you can do this with wet or dry hair but I prefer to do it dry as that way I can see where it will truly sit as wet hair will definitely shrink up a bit once dried. Also I didn’t take any pics when I was actually cutting my fringe in (silly me, I know!) so I’ve just tried to do it with a small thin section so that you get the overall idea 😉

  1. First up, section how thick you want your fringe to be. Do you want it wispy, medium and choppy or blunt and thick? Decisions, Decisions! Try to get the section even on both sides and do this while your hair is parted where it naturally sits.
  2. Pull the excess hair out of the way and comb the fringe section down and forward onto the face.
  3. Time to get ballsy people! Comb through a section of hair (I like to start somewhere close to my temple) and hold the comb nearest to the length you would like. Remember it will bounce up a bit so start longer rather than going too short! Cut straight across using the comb as a guide. I like to aim for around top to middle of eyebrow for this part.
  4. Continue to cut all the way across the fringe using this same method, tidying up any stray long strands along the way. If you find the comb annoying then you can do it free-hand, I just feel it helps at the beginning to get it all even then I ditch the comb and go back in again.
  5. If you want your fringe blunt, then your done! But I like to go a step further and chop into mine a bit to soften the edges and give it a bit more of a feathered look. I simply hold the scissors upright and chop small little sections up into the ends only really going a few centimetres into the fringe. Keep snipping until its sitting the way you enjoy 🙂

You may want to give it a bit of a blow dry afterwards and I always find that after I wash my hair I have to go back in for a little re-trim as some new random long bits decide to join the party! Hopefully this helps my fellow fringe go-ers out there and maybe converts a few non-fringers to give it a go! It’s such a great way to soften the face and it really isn’t too hard to do yourself, you just have to have a clear image of what you like/want first before you get into hedging your new ‘do.

Happy snipping!

Love, Rachelle xx

I love dancing, it’s my life and it’s who I am. I will never regret my decision of dedicating my life to dance but sometimes it is easy to lose direction, inspiration and motivation (I am human guys hehe!) As an artist it’s so important to feel inspired or “switched on” so that the performances we give can be something to be remembered, but what do we do if we simply just don’t feel like doing it? I’ve been in that boat more than once believe me and what I’ve found is that it’s important to firstly figure out why you feel this way and then to try to find solutions to get that fire burning again! Oh and for those of you dance junkies out there that never tire of dancing or anything to do with it (my boyfriend/dance partner included) then this may not really apply to you!! You lucky things 😉

First off, figuring out why you don’t want to put your dance shoes on. Ask yourself am I tired? I don’t mean  “Oh I had a late night last night” tired, I mean like yeah I’ve done 6 comps in the last two months or I can’t remember the last time I had a day off. Sometimes the monotony of going into the studio or dancing competitions can be just as tiring mentally as it is physically. If I don’t take one full day off in at least a fortnight then I know I will start to resent the studio. This then leads to blurry practices with no real plan or path. It’s all too easy to go into auto pilot and just dance around with no purpose. Of course it isn’t always feasible to take time off but at least I am aware of it and I try my best! The older and more advanced you get in sport/art (whatever you want to call it!! haha) the more it becomes a mental game rather than something physical. Thats why it’s so important to distinguish between the two.

grounds-alexandria
Love a good coffee.. ooh and some pretty flowers!

If you are just tired physically, take a day off, go get a coffee instead. You’re not going to forget everything and it will probably do you more good than going in there slogging away at something you have no desire for. However if it’s more than that and you are a full-time dancer feeling mentally weak then maybe you need to look at scheduling in some PROPER time off. After 11 months of non-stop training and competitions I took a solid week off the other week and I can’t even explain how good for my dancing it was. I came back feeling refreshed and ready to work on improving myself whereas the week before it I felt stale and exhausted. If taking time away from the floor doesn’t work or isn’t the right answer then maybe some visual inspiration is the key..

These days we are so lucky to have the magnificent internet to help us with our dancing woes. You can go on YouTube and find lectures, new routines, lessons on timing, floorshows.. you name it, it’s on there! So, something that works for me on those days before I head into practice, is to watch some dance related videos on the tube as I feel it really gets me inspired to get in there and get working! Some of my favourite ladies to watch are Anne Gleave, Loraine Barry, Charlotte Jorgensen, Alessandra Bucciarelli and Alessia Betti, but there are literally videos of anyone on there! Heck, there’s some embarrassing one’s of me on there too!! So people, if your favourite dancer cant inspire you, nothing can. So get watching!

Another option is to go and watch a live performance. One of our major teachers in the U.K used to always stress to Steve and I that we need to go and watch the Ballet. Not only to see the beauty of their lines in the flesh but also to find inspiration in what they do and bring that into our own performance. Alas, I haven’t been to an abundance of shows but I have been to the ballet a few times and have watched a couple of musicals and circus shows too. It’s a great way of making you appreciate other forms of art and can really give you a new lease on your own style. Ballroom is heavily based around ballet in my eyes so I just love watching the way they move what looks to be so effortlessly, but the dancer in me knows it takes great strength and dedication. Something else I found helpful was to take some lessons in ballet or another dance form. I did ballet for roughly a year or so and it was so interesting to try to find the correlations between the two styles. I loved learning a different form of dance and it was so much fun to try to bring some of the things I had learnt in those lessons into my ballroom practice (TRY being the optimistic word hehe).

The other day Steve and I went to watch the Russian Ballet perform Swan Lake in a theatre close to home. IT WAS AMAZING!! It’s the first time I have ever been lucky enough to watch classical ballet and it was just so breathtaking. Of course there were a few standout performers in there and that’s what I love about dancing is that everyone is so different. It’s all about finding that special something that you love to look at and then letting that inspire you to create your own interpretation/feeling. It definitely had me itching to get back in the studio to improve myself so maybe it might work for you too!?

Lastly, if none of these things work then maybe it’s best to look toward your next goal.. whether it’s a competition, medal day or a floorshow. We start our training leading up to any major comp about a month or so beforehand and I love the feeling of the build up to a big competition. It gives me a clear sight as to what I’m working toward and I can see a finish line. That way I know all this hard work is actually for something too! The body definitely starts to wake up and get excited about the task rather than just slogging away thinking it’s the everyday grind. So try to think of whatever is your next biggie and see that as your major driver everytime you can’t be bothered. Something super important for me is making sure that I am physically fit enough for the comp so that I can show my best dancing. This is why we turn up the heat on our stamina practices a month before the comp and not simply a week before! But horses for courses guys, what works for me might not necessarily be the best option for you so it’s all about being instintive and listening to your body 😉

So if you’re feeling a little blah don’t worry! Because we have all been there 🙂 Maybe give some of these ideas a go and see if they can bring your sparkle back! What are some things you like to do to find motivation/inspiration? Leave me some love below xxx

Most people who I speak to think that it must be super hard to be a vegan, especially in my case with travelling so much. Surprisingly though, it really isn’t that bad. You just have to know what foods you can and can’t eat and trust that others will respect your choices. The past month and a half I’ve been travelling around the world and have only spent a total of 3 nights in my own bed so that means dealing with tricking eating situations. I’ve been to Germany, England, New Zealand and Western Australia and have only gone hungry once (partially my own fault as I couldn’t be bothered complaining). So if you’re intrigued by the Vegan lifestyle but feel it may be too difficult or just want a few healthy travelling hacks, I’m here to share a few tips that have helped me.

Let’s start with the first problem you can encounter when travelling; airplane food. This is probably the most quick and easy one to fix.. simply go online and order the vegan meal! These days they have so many meal options online to cater for all of us with food preferences so it really isn’t an issue anymore. I’ve eaten the vegan meals of Qantas and British airways flights so far and they have all been fine! The greatest thing is that your foodsies will come out first and if you’re flying with Qantas you will also receive a piece of fruit! I know this sounds so ridiculous to celebrate (woooo! FRUIT!!) but there is something about flying that just really makes me crave fresh fruit and veg. I think it must be those microwave dinners.. in fairness though they are getting better 😉 After eating the vegan meals I’ve never felt stodgy, stomach crampy or bloated like I used to when eating the normal meals. For this reason I would even recommend ordering the vegan option even if you aren’t vegan! The food seems so much fresher and you will feel so much better when you get off the plane! So, flying is an easy one, but if you are worried about getting hungry between meals on the plane or simply don’t want to eat that food then pack some nuts or dried fruit to take on board with you. Just remember those quarantine laws though, you don’t want Sally the sniffer dog leaving you with a hefty fine before you even enter the country!

Of course once you arrive to your new destination you can always scope out your local Vegan eateries on tripadvisor.com but sometimes its not always that easy. Most places these days offer a Vegetarian option which can easily be edited to make the meal Vegan. When eating out I try to look for the (V) options and then speak to the waiter to see if anything can be done to get rid of the dairy or other animal products present. If the waiter has no idea what you’re talking about and is totally un-helpful (had a few of those!) then it’s up to you to try to sort something out for yo’self. If I’m really in a pickle and I’ve exhausted all options then I tend to hit up the sweet potato chips, regular fries or wedges (most places have this option) and I maybe pair it with a simple garden salad. Man have I eaten a lot of sweet potato fries lately haha! No but seriously, it’s not been because I’ve HAD to eat them it’s because I’m addicted to them!!

If you are reeeeally lucky, at some restaurants the chef may make a specific vegan meal for you. This was the case for Steve and I when we recently went to a winery (Millbrook Winery) which only offered a set menu on the weekends. We just mentioned we were Vegan when booking the table over the phone and we were told the chef would look after us. BOY DID HE EVER!! I think this was hands down the best Vegan food I have ever eaten. Maybe the best food I’ve ever eaten period. The dark chocolate sorbet had all my family wishing they were Vegan too (haha only for the dessert of course!). The chef made us all 3 courses so that we didn’t feel like we were missing out and the best thing about this is that it made everyone else at the table feel at ease too. Sometimes it’s not so much me that gets stressed about the food I can eat, it’s whoever I’m with! But, that’s love for ya.

For all those other times when you are on the road and just can’t find any other options there is always good old Macca’s. Never in my dreams would I have thought I would be recommending McDonald’s on my blog but the other day when Steve and I were in New Zealand we ran into Hunger Town. Both of us were starving, stuck on a freeway and in a bit of a rush. So I thought what better time to try to DIY our own Vegan burger at Micky D’s! It was actually ridiculously good.. all I did was get a bun, no protein, no cheese and added in every dang vegetable on the menu pretty much haha 😀 Beetroot, pineapple, mushrooms, onion, pickles and lettuce were in mine with tomato sauce as the topping (Steve had the same but ordered a hash brown and whacked that inside his burger too #fattyboombah). I was so satisfied and it didn’t leave me with the usual McRegrets I get after eating their food. The only downside being that I don’t think McDonald’s staff are quite used to actually “creating” burgers so we had to wait about 15-20 minutes while they wrapped their heads around it.

perfect snack
The perfect snack!

One final thing I will stress to anyone interested in this lifestyle is that when you get hungry it comes on FAST so it is always best to be prepared. When I know I have a busy day ahead I make lunch in the morning and try to pack fresh or dried fruit with me so that I have things to snack on during the day. Sometimes it is hard to find Vegan food out there guys, but alas if you set your mind to something there is always a way 😉 One place I would always recommend if you are out and about and totally stuck on what to eat is your local grocery store! In Germany, Steve and I went for a walk in a small country town near Frankfurt looking for somewhere to eat for lunch. We came across several cafes that were showing off their meat sambo’s and creamy cakes and we could have just easily been like ahh well, we are hungry, don’t speak the language and that = too hard basket but we decided to try the local grocery shop instead. There was heaps of fresh, local fruit in there and a bakery too! So we bought some fruit (fresh and dried), fruit juice, a few bread rolls and some tomatoes, olives and dolmades (those rice things wrapped in vine leaves) and made some wicked sandwiches which we ate in a park.

I hope this was helpful to those of you out there interested in the plant-based lifestyle! I’ve been rocking it for 7 months now!! I just love how it makes me feel 🙂 If you have any comments or questions please feel free to leave below!

Love, Rachelle xx

Looking at planning a holiday? You lucky thing, you! Not planning on spending a small fortune? I hear ya!

My partner and I have been travelling to the UK three times a year for close to 10 years now. We go there so often because the 3 major championships for the calendar year are held there so it’s an absolute must for a serious ballroom dancer. Throw in another dozen flights around Asia and Australia and not only are we racking up the points but it also racks up the $$$. This is why I have a few go-to things that really help alleviate some of the stress that can come with all this travel. I thought I’d share some of these tips with as maybe they will help you too!

The first thing I rely on pretty much every time I’m travelling abroad is airbnb.com. This website has been a game-changer for me when it comes to booking accommodation. Gone are the days where I have to message every Tom, Dick and Harry that I know, seeing if they know a friend with enough space to put up 2 people for a few weeks. Now its as simple as heading over to the website a couple of months before I travel and I have an abundance of options at my fingertips! Even better is that not only do I have a bed to sleep in, but I also gain a kitchen to cook in! Double win 🙂 This saves soooo much cash that is usually spent buying food out. If you haven’t had a look at the website before then click here and it will take you there. It’s really simple to book and the filter is also helpful as it takes into consideration what type of dwelling you are after (share house, whole house, granny flat, Buckingham Palace etc). We have stayed at many people’s homes through our travels and the experiences have always been welcoming and easy. Oh and did I mention the options are usually much cheaper than staying at a hotel? Using a mobile device? They have an app for that too!

farmers market
I love fresh produce!

This leads me onto my next tip, which is to try to shop at local farmer’s markets! If you are lucky enough to have a kitchen whilst you are away and want to save some coin then cook some of your own meals man! I’m not a massive ‘eating out’ fan anyway unless it’s for a special occasion or to meet up with friends, otherwise I much prefer to whip up my own food. It can sometimes be tricky with food requirements (see vegan) and eating out for every meal can easily suck the life out of your holiday savings account. Sometimes, if the conversion rate is a bit dodgy it can be just as expensive shopping for food at local stores. This is why I always try to seek out a local market, they offer so much fresh produce and it is usually at a fraction of the price. I once bought 10 avocados for the equivalent of $2AUD! No joke the guy at the stall said to me “Fill the bag love”, so I did! Generally I try to buy all my fruit and veg at the markets and anything else I need eg. bread, rice, pasta etc, from the local store.

Another thing that I find really helps when travelling is to buy a local sim card. We all rely so heavily on our little devices these days and no one wants to go without their phone cold turkey! So rather than setting up some sort of plan with your carrier at home, I would recommend buying a sim card when you arrive. They are super cheap and you simply plonk it in your (unlocked, hopefully) phone and away you go! This way you can have easy access to your social media, messaging, emails etc. and you will also have GPS for those times you get mega lost. I did go through years of sneaking into any Starbucks I could find and taking full advantage of the free wi-fi, but now Steve and I tend to book a hire car while we are away so GPS is a must! It can get pretty heated in the car if you are travelling blind!! As a quick side note, try to book your car through an independently owned car hire service as it is usually a lot cheaper. If you’re going to the UK, Kendall Car Hire is awesome. I tend to keep my Australian sim card safe and sound in between my phone and phone case and switch it out whilst on the plane.

sightseeing
Out and About

And lastly, one idea I just recently had and am going to put to the test on my next trip in September/October is to take a blender. This may sound absolutely ludicrous but sometimes when there is absolutely no food about I can simply buy a buttload of fruit and make a filling smoothie! I’m also thinking it will be great for those nights when you have been out all day and come home late and want something quick. Also, my blender is pretty small so packing it shouldn’t be too much of a pain and besides I just can’t bear the thought of not having my brekkie smoothie every morning 🙂 So, I will definitely let you know if that turns out to be a fail.. but I have a feeling its going to be the best idea ever!

What are some of your tips for travelling on a budget? Comment below..